Pilgrims go with God to help homeless

Staff writer

A divinely inspired dream has sent Michael and Julie Pearson on a five-month pilgrimage across America to raise money for a ranch where homeless people can live, work, and worship.

“It made me nervous,” Michael recalls, “But I asked Him, ‘When do we leave?’”

The couple crossed Marion County last week, spending much of their time on US-56 and K-150.

In his dream, Michael, who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, said he saw glimpses of different American cities.

“First, I was on a beach in Los Angeles, there were other places, and then I was at Times Square in New York City,” he said. “After that he sent me a vision of a ranch. I wasn’t sure where it was, but there were homeless people on it.”

He and Julie prayed about what the dream might mean, and since there was no car in the dream, Michael decided God wanted them to walk across the country to help the homeless.

God also healed him of asthma, he said, and helped the couple find money to pay off car, motorcycle, and personal debts before they undertook their adventure.

“We paid them off in less than a year,” he said. “It freed us up to do this walk.”

Before they left, Michael, 42, was a night audit supervisor at a hotel, and Julie, 34, was a Walmart employee. They gave their employers six months’ notice.

“I loved my job but told my boss I had to quit because God laid a mission on my heart,” Michael said. “He understood that it was something we had to do.”

After his parents outfitted the couple with supplies, including several pairs of shoes, they packed modified gaming carts with a butane stove, cookware, canned goods, tents, pillows, blankets, rain gear, bug spray, books, and small Bibles before leaving from Port Hueneme, California, at the beginning of February.

“There was a profound moment just after we started out on Route 66 when Julie was saved by a crow,” Pearson said. “I watched it swoop down and scoop up a snake.”

As the crow flew away, the snake struck and killed the bird, causing it to fall from the sky.

“I knew God was watching out for us because the snake was right in her path,” Pearson said. “It would have killed her for sure. She was zoning out, bopping along with her earbuds in.”

Since then, they have walked 1,476 miles, gone through about five pairs of shoes each, and become more fit.

“I weighed 369 pounds before we started,” Michael said. “I got on a scale about 500 miles ago and I had lost 70 pounds.”

One day when Michael was bored, he counted taking 2,600 steps in a mile. He said they walk about 15 miles per day.

Along the way, the Pearsons have camped on the side of the road and been put up in motels, slept and worshiped in many different churches, been interviewed by reporters, and met people receptive to their cause.

“It’s amazing how nice people are,” Julie said. “I think we have prayed with the most people in Kansas.”

Locals Bruce and Shari Padgham gave them a bag of homegrown vegetables and hard-boiled eggs.

The Pearsons gave a pair of shoes, an apple, and an orange to a homeless man named Jim who was pushing a bike with a broken chain and derailleur just outside Marion.

“He was from Kansas City,” Michael said. “He was heading to Kansas City.”

Walking down Main St., they encountered concrete rhinos, which they wrote about on social media.

“We got the pamphlet,” Michael said. “The rhinos were pretty cool. Other places in the country do things like this.”

The Pearsons walked east on K-150 and headed to Emporia on US-50. They hope to reach their destination in New York in October.

The Pearsons are not sure they will be able to raise enough money to start the ranch. So far, they have raised about $4,500. They hope to raise $4 million.

“It’s a huge number, but the homeless problem is a huge problem, too,” Michael said. “Right now we just know we are supposed to walk.”

They can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/Walk3000MilesInTheirShoes.

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